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  The Castle of Msaylha

The Castle of Msaylha is located on the right river of Nahr El Jawz, at two-kilometer-wide upstream part of its mouth.
The Castle of Msaylha is built on the summit of a rocky spur near a bridge crossing Nahr El Jawz. This Castle used to control the road coming down from the North throughout the narrow pass between the Wadis in the East of Ras al-Chaqaa heading to Boutron.


And thus, the Castle monitors and operates the road coming down from Chekka towards the town of Boutron just next to the bridge crossing Nahr El Jawz.


This road serves communications between the North and the South since the famous earthquake in 551 which has caused the collapse of the ancient road passing to the West of Ras Al Chaqaa.


Thanks to its strategic position on the main coastal road connecting the North to the South, this Castle has known many occupiers during the medieval era: Crusades, Ayyubids, Mamelukes and Ottomans. These different occupiers have carried out throughout times several modification and construction works which have given this site its natural aspect.

 


Description of the Castle

A long converted staircase on the north side of this rocky peak leads to the entrance of the Castle. The Castle of Msaylha is composed of two independent units described by Mr. Voisin as the donjon and the courtyard. The lower yard, located on the east side, is set up with a series of bunkers protecting the archers positioned to control all sides overlooking the castle in addition to the heights towering over it from the southern side. The entrance overlooks this yard; this entrance is set up on the north-eastern side of this yard. Said entrance is protected by a deadfall trap and a tiny archer’s slip from a cell located in the upper yard.


Entry to the yard is made through the lower yard through a door placed in the middle of the eastern part. There are a few resemblances between the Castle of Msaylha and the Castle of Peyrepetuse in the country of Aude. However, the shape of the arches and the presence of a little mosque built on the southern part of the lower yard show that the castle is a work that has preceded the presence of the Crusades in the East. We can see a building from Fakhreddine II (1590-1635), a Prince from Lebanon, constructed in XVII during the Ottoman age.


Mr. Condé reports information gathered in 1956 regarding Emir Izzat Al Ayyoubi 1152. He assigned the construction of the castle to the Ayyoubides princes of Aleppo living in the region of Koura and Batroun at the beginning of the XVI century. It was named the Castle of Douri (passerine bird), the adjective given to Emir Qassoub al Ayyoubi who never allowed himself to be captured.


  Role of the Castle

The main role of this castle is to monitor the channel on the bridge crossing Nahr Al Jawz further down. The current bridge dates back to the Ottoman era, but it was built as a substitute to an ancient bridge whose ruins are visible only a few meters upstream the current bridge.

     
     
Anis CHAAYA
PhD in Archaeology
ICOMOS Member & Specialist
Associate Professor at the Lebanese University ; Beirut ; Lebanon 
 

Address: Nasser Eddine Bldg. - Lteif St. - Ain Remaneh - Beirut - Lebanon 
Tel: +961.(0)3.854703

https://lu-lb.academia.edu/AnisChaaya
E.mail: anischaaya@yahoo.com ; anischaaya@gmail.com ; a.chaaya@ifporient.org

 

 

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